20 October 2011

It's not you, twitter, it's me.

For a free service that opens up the world to people, twitter attracts an awful lot of moaning. Not the untutored Daily Mail whinge that puts all the ills of the modern world at the door of every new piece of technology, but huffy exasperation from sometime and longtime users, who want to flounce away. With that in mind I wanted to spend a little more than 140 characters explaining why I was leaving Twitter, so people wouldn't think I was a flouncer.

Twitter is not just a remarkable tool, it's an eco-system that routes information, news, gossip and terrible jokes with lightning efficiency across the globe. And for all its exasperations - and there are many - it remains truly a wonder of the digital age. Twitter has allowed me to share insights, information, joy and tears with a remarkable community of similar misanthropes. Truly lovely, creative, thoughtful and funny people, all looking for a niche, acceptance and entertainment. But lately I have realised this is a double-edged sword for people like me.

I have somehow collected over the last two years some 1,200 people who, while maybe not hanging on my every word, at least don't find me irritating enough to unfollow. I have done this through dedicated arsing about, glib remarks and the facetious reflex of looking for the joke in every situation. While this can stand you in good stead on something like Twitter, these same qualities can also hinder your success in the world outside twitter in which most of us must live and earn money. I have always taken a joy in the exchange and banter of twitter, and the giddy thrill when something you post is retweeted. I started on twitter after I had been made redundant, and took some comfort in the detached voices shouting in the void, and the validation a growing audience brings. It continues to provide that sense of self-worth, but can also mask those all-too-real deficiencies that I went on to twitter to avoid confronting.

I started to realise I was living a dual life: the surface reality I was skidding across and the underlying life of the imagination, where every event, confrontation, news story or advertising typo was a tweet waiting to be written. Those times when I wasn't tweeting, I was thinking of things I could tweet. The narcotic boost to one's self-confidence by a RT would make the hours daydreaming about the next nob gag worthwhile; I wasn't bunking off work to write tweets, but I also wasn't spending time working out why I needed that audience approval. I could have conversations about work, shopping, the kids and proposed changes to the LBW rule while running a simultaneous stream of thought about the next wry 140-character observation. I have recently realised I liked real life less and less, and was seeking refuge in twitter rather than companionship. Unfortunately real life has an annoying habit of being quite important.

In truth, I don't think I'm dealing with being 40 very well. I become exasperated at my own imbecilities, lack of focus or career drive. The necessity to live one's life day-to-day is an inescapable responsibility, according to Sartre. I might have known that if I hadn't been on twitter instead of reading. My responsibilities are things that can't be dodged or compensated by a neat gag about David Cameron being a cunt. Currently I have an opportunity to develop myself professionally, and I think I need to take it, rather than consign it to the Bin Of Missed Chances that is overflowing in my hinterland. It's not something I do joyfully, but then how much of real life is?

It's au revoir rather than goodbye; I'm not closing my twitter account, because I hope one day I might find space for it when I like myself again. I'm just covering things in dust-sheets. In fact, I continue to use it professionally on @MikeHoffman1. Don't bother looking - it's the most fucking boring twitter feed in Christendom. Well, except for @conservatives of course.

1 comment:

PW said...

You miss it really.